If Monta Ellis had produced the same numbers for a team perceived as a title contender as he did for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2013-14 season, he would have unquestionably been named an All-Star for the first time in his career. When the Mavericks signed him as their plan H last summer, they could not have dreamed that he would fit next to Dirk Nowitzki any better than he did.
Ellis averaged 19 PPG and just under six APG for the season, and got to the basket more effectively than anyone else in the league as the starting shooting guard in Dallas. If you dive into the more complex statistical categories, you would be hard-pressed to find any major flaws in Ellis’ first season with the Mavericks.
Nowitzki participated in the All-Star game for the 12th time after taking a year off from that game the season before. He bounced back from the 2012-13 season, when he was dramatically slowed by injury but still rounded into superstar form by April.
It’s obvious that both players are in Dallas to compete for an NBA championship. They both have displayed tremendous amounts of heart and desire. They have shown that they want to fight as hard as they have to in order to compete at the highest level, on the biggest stage, and under the brightest lights.
No one outside of Dallas gave the team a chance at the start of last season, but they still managed to reach just shy of 50 wins in a Western conference absolutely stacked from top to bottom, and they pushed the eventual NBA champions to seven games. The San Antonio Spurs lost three games to the Mavericks in the recent playoff season. Against the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and mighty Miami Heat, the Spurs lost only four games combined.
So with all that considered, with everything the Mavericks have going for them, why do they still seem to be considered underdogs in the free agent market? Why do circles of casual fans seem to view Dallas as a franchise that’s not on the same level as the other top-tier franchises? It’s difficult to understand, but the team is consistently in the conversation regarding any top-level free agent-to-be, and that’s saying something.
Brian Ogle is a Dallas Mavericks columnist for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @TheOgle.